Monday Morning Briefing: High Mountains Training Camps, a Big Injury and More
With the extremely hot temperatures of July now extending into August, many teams either have been or are now training in the mountains or anyplace a bit cool, to get a small break from the heat. At the same time, there was a big injury this weekend and in the recent past, there were a couple of weddings, and a new baby on the way.
The Coolest Canadians
Getting away from Europe, the coolest team is surely the Canadians. They are in the midst of a training camp on the Haig Glacier, which lies about 90 km from their home base in Canmore. The glacier is nestled in the thin air from 2600-2800 meters in the Rocky Mountains. Unlike some of the glacier training sites in Europe, Haig is remote with just a couple of ways to access its 5 km of groomed trail; either by helicopter or on foot. Canadian Coach Matthias Ahrens admitted the athletes took the less easy route, “The eight National Team and eight Development Team athletes ran the 20 km up to the camp from Kananaskis Lake; our equipment and supplies were flown in by helicopter.”
45 Minute Hike, Then 3 Hours Skiing
Their base is the Becky Scott High Altitude Training Centre, which sits at 2400 meters consists of three large huts set on a rocky plateau. Settled in for four days, Ahrens explained the routine. “The access from the camp to the glacier is about a 45 minute hike. We start our 3 hour sessions with skating and finish with classic. In the afternoon, back at camp, we work on core strength and mobility.”
Freezing and Long Sleeves
As for escaping the heat: Canmore is not like central Europe, the Friday high was 22 degrees Celsius. However, up on the glacier, Ahrens said, “We had some thundershowers and a little freezing, making it a very nice 0-4 degrees Celsius.” Just to make everyone across the Atlantic a bit jealous, yes, they are training in long sleeves and tights!”
Back on the continent, two other teams have headed for the mountains for dry land training, with the Swiss Team in Antholz and the Czech men at the Swiss home base of Lenzerheide.
Swiss Team in Antholz
As usual, Antholz in the summer never seems to disappoint. According to Serafin Wiestner, “We’ve had great conditions.” These summer days in the Südtirol show the high temperatures just above 20 degrees Celsius and lows around 15. Always guaranteed to be sunny in the winter, Antholz has given the Swiss men and women more than their share of sunshine.
The big group has spent plenty of their time on the Südtirol Arena shooting range and rollerski loop, with drills and interval sessions.
At the same time, they have been able to enjoy the scenery with hikes topping out on the highest peaks and long cycling tours.
Czech Team in Lenzerheide
Like the Swiss team, the Czech squad is encamped in the mountains, at the Biathlon Arena Lenzerheide. They probably are pretty happy about training in this Swiss paradise with the temperatures topping out around 20 degrees Celsius while the Czech Republic swelters in the 30’s. The team is in the midst of a 19 day camp in the heart of the Alps. While on a hike/run up to the top of the surrounding peaks, Adam Vaclavik snapped some panoramas.
The happy group of Vaclavik, Michal Slesingr, Ondrej Hosek, Michal Krcmar, Milan Zemlicka and Tomas Krupcik stopped for a memorable pic atop one peak and a video that can be seen on Slesingr’s Instagram account.
The marriage of Mari Laukkanen and Benjamin Eder as well as Tomas Kaukenas and his wife Agne took place just recently, but another biathlon star took the plunge at the end of June. Johannes Thingnes Boe married his fiancé Hedda Daehli on June 30 and then went on a honeymoon in Venice.
Best wishes to the newlyweds!
Baby on the Way
This past weekend, Emil Hegle Svendsen and his fiancée Samantha Skogrand revealed that a baby is on the way this winter. Congratulations on this latest biathlon baby!
Sweden’s Peppe Femling suffered a horrible injury just before the start of the Lysebotn uphill race in Norway. The Swedish Olympic Relay Gold medalist was crowded by a car during his warm-up and ended up with his own ski pole through his lower leg, passing from his calf through to his ankle.
Luckily, Norwegian cross-country athlete and medical student Simen Andreas Sveen was nearby. The Norwegian stopped his own warm-up to give first aid to Femling, who was airlifted to a hospital with the pole still in his leg. Conscious throughout the whole ordeal, he commented on Instagram “that the report looks good, even though the pictures ion the various media do not look so good.” An operation later removed the errant stick and 48 hours later, he walked out of the hospital, with crutches but not using them.
After leaving the hospital, the upbeat Femling commented to Swedish Team press officer Hakan Bilberg, “I am going to sleep for a couple of days but then get back to work, especially on my upper body. It’s easy to say that I was lucky…The pole went straight through my calf, with about 20 cm between the entrance and exit. The pulled it out and the wounds are quite small. I was so lucky that it managed to avoid the larger blood vessels, bones and nerves; only the muscle is damaged. In a week, I can get back on schedule again.” The Biathlon Family wishes Peppe a quick and full recovery!
Oeberg Sisters Sweep
Like those campers in the mountains, the various biathlon stars in Norway for the Blink were treated to some cool weather. Although Femling’s injury dampened the spirits of the Swedish team, the Oeberg sisters cleaned up on the shooting range. Double IBU Youth World Champion outshot all the men and women to claim the shooting duels final over Norway’s Erlend Bjoentegaard.
Braisaz, L'Abbe Lund and Brorsson
Later on Friday, her sister Olympic Gold medalist Hanna Oeberg topped the elite women’s mass start by 2.1 seconds over fellow Pyeongchang Gold medalist Anastasiya Kuzmina. Oeberg’s teammate Mona Brorsson took the final podium spot. In the next day’s women’s super sprint, France’s Justine Braisaz took the top spot, followed by Marte Olsbu with Brorsson taking another third place. On the men’s side, Norway swept the mass start with Henrik L’Abee Lund in first, followed by Johannes and teammate Vetle Sjastad Christiansen. In the super sprint, Christiansen prevailed, with Johannes and France’s Antonin Guigonnat following.
Photos: IBU, Johannes Thingnes Boe, Adam Vaclavik, Matthias Ahrens, Serafin Wiestner